On Sunday, a candidate stopped by my house during his campaign door-knocking rounds. In that conversation, he asked me who I would vote for between him and Levar Stoney? I don't think I ever gave an answer. It is hard to explain why I do not want to vote for Levar because a lot of it sounds vaguely conspiracy theorist since it is rooted in opinions about his ties to the establishment. At least it was hard to explain until I put these dots together...
This is an ad in support of Shockoe Stadium that was placed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that was paid for by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. At the bottom of the open letter, there are different organizations and people listed who support the stadium. The last name on this list is Delegate Delores McQuinn.
Delegate Delores McQuinn represents the 70th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Previously, she has served as a member of Richmond School Board and Richmond City Council. During the Shockoe Bottom Stadium debate in 2014, Delegate McQuinn was the Chairwoman of the Slave Trail Commission so her opinion was sought out. In the end, she supported the project. But in true Richmond fashion, nothing is ever simple and transparent. As it turns out, in September 2014 RTD reported that Delegate McQuinn received campaign donations from key people involved with Shockoe Stadium. Donors included Main Street Realty (developers David White and Louis Salomonsky), Charles MacFarlane (he was going to build a hotel near the stadium), Jim Ukrop (he is currently one of Jack Berry's campaign chairs and he was a vocal supporter of the stadium plan), Jack Berry, Grant Neely (chief of staff for Mayor Jones), and Burt Pinnock (architect of the slave history site concept).
So, we have an unsupported Stadium plan that is supported by Delegate Delores McQuinn, who received donations from key players involved with building the stadium. Back in February 2014 (seven months prior to the campaign donation information being released), reports came out that the Chairman of the Richmond City Democrat Committee, JJ Minor (who at the time worked in the city's Department of Economic and Community Development) was involved with the Stadium efforts, including potentially helping recruit people to sign the petitions. JJ Minor denied the allegations. JJ Minor is the son of Delegate Delores McQuinn.
Let's fast forward to 2016 for a quick round of "where are they now?"
In 2016, JJ Minor is still the Chairman of the RCDC and Delegate McQuinn is still representing the 70th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Minor endorsed Levar Stoney and then received criticism because he personally endorsed a candidate before the RCDC made their endorsement. RCDC endorsed Levar. Meanwhile, Del. McQuinn also endorsed Levar Stoney. For a bonus round, a FOIA request revealed during the Shockoe Bottom Stadium that Jack Berry suggested ghostwriting quotes from black community leaders.
Two years later and the Flying Squirrels are still at the Diamond and we are back to talking about a stadium. Last week, it was announced the VCU and the Flying Squirrels signed a memorandum of understanding to move forward to explore options of building a stadium on the Boulevard. Levar Stoney went on to publicly acknowledge that he was involved in brokering the deal when he was Secretary of the Commonwealth.
So what's the problem?
For me, I do not feel like I can trust a candidate who is tied to a bigger political machine that has clear ties to Shockoe Stadium. I do not have documentation of a bigger conspiracy or the pull that the Democratic party has with Levar, but it does not sit well to see that two of Levar's supporters have a history of supporting Shockoe Stadium at a time when Levar played Grand Convener (puppet master?) to pull together the parties to work on the latest stadium effort.
So the answer to your question of if I would vote for you or Levar is "no." No to both.